Race to Benefit Leukemia Research Well-Run in Many Ways

Article excerpt

Byline: Susan Terwedow

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CORRECTION/date 10-12-1996: The amount of money raised by the 5K run and walk was incorrectly reported. The correct amount is $100,000.

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The Alden Health Care Center in Naperville hosted its annual 5K run and walk Saturday to raise money for leukemia research.

Such a thorough job was done to provide participants with a positive experience that it is easy to see why this was rated as the Chicago Area Runners Association's top race of 1995. Volunteers directed runners to parking areas and then toward registration. Footprint cutouts guided runners through the building to packet pick-up and registration.

Participants were able to get their finish line statistics immediately after the race. Greg Evans provided start and finish line music and announcements. TV weatherman Steve Baskerville was the official guest starter and also presented winners with their awards. Race director Bill Wojcik kept everything coordinated.

Among the participants was Faith Walkwitz of Bensenville. She and her husband, Don, had recently finished a 940-mile bike trip/vacation in California. They visited Crater Lake and the Redwood Forest, among other sights.

"I messed up my legs," said Walkwitz, who still won her 60-64 age group in 23:47.

Don Walkwitz was providing race support for his wife. He was also resting up from his performances in the state Senior Olympics in Springfield. The 63-year-old had run the 800 in 2:48 and the 1,500 in 5:55.

Marion Kowalski finished second in that age division in 25:24. Marion's husband, Richard, joked about his race time. His watch showed that he had run the race in 15 seconds.

Dave Pfefferle, 43, of Naperville, had not run at all in 1995 because of injuries. Hamstring injuries kept him from running again in July. But he managed to place third in his age group.

Peggy Whitlow of Elmhurst went beyond winning her 50-54 age division. She was the first place female Masters runner. Her time of 19:23 was her best of the year. Whitlow said that her training has been going well this year and the mild fall weather has been helpful.

Gary and Mary Moss came from Geneva to race. Mary finished second in her age division. Gary was winner of the male Masters award with his time of 16:38. Gary Moss is president of the Fox River Trail Runners. That organization is planning to add even more events to its schedule of races.

Cindy James won the women's division in 16:35. She was followed closely by Mary Knisely, 37, in 16:52. Knisely recently moved to Naperville from Texas with her husband, Dan, and their two children, Justin, 4, and Savannah, 2.

This was Knisely's first race in five years. She broke her foot during her last race, but completed the course and finished in first place. Knisely was a national champion in the 5K in 1986 and 1987. She was a gold medalist in the Pan Am Games in 1987. She was also a member of two world championship cross country teams. Her top time is 15:12.

Warren Utes was recognized for his accomplishment in the Alden race. He set a national age record for 76-year-old men by completing the course in 19:39.3.

When asked how he has managed to maintain such consistently fast race times, Utes explained that it just takes common sense. He rests up and takes it easy after strenuous events. He is also a strong proponent of stretching before and after running.

An award was given to the youngest racer, Rick Gibb of Naperville. The 9-year-old ran in 27:20.

Carol Stream resident Anne Clarke won recognition as the oldest participant in the race.

"Oh, I just finish," said Clarke. "I don't go fast anymore. I went to the theater last night and was up late. But I was two minutes faster than last time."

The 87-year-old completed the race in 42:15.

The Palos Roadrunners made a clean sweep of the team races by winning all three divisions. …